Don’t get me wrong, I love a meaty challenge. And an astounding solution. But when you see a simple, elegant solution to a recognisable problem, you know you are seeing innovation come to life.

That’s why I love the “Pilot” from Waverley Labs. It’s a wearable translator. A real life Babel Fish that has emerged from the pages of science fiction to live on your phone.

Now, there are scant details available from their website, but watching their promo video, it seems like such an obvious, elegant and simple solution that it’s amazing no one has done it before.

Let’s try reverse engineering the concept and see what an MVP might look like.

The Problem Worth Solving

When I travel I like to meet people, but language gets in the way. Guidebooks and phrasebooks make translation slow going. It would be great if there was “an app for that”.

Solution

An app that connects a bluetooth headset to Google’s translation engine and uses text to voice to translate in realtime. Work with this as an MVP and then build out dedicated functionality and improvements as revenues grow.

Who would buy it?

Travellers. Lovers. Emergency services. Healthcare practioners (especially front line staff). Airline staff. Any organisation with front line staff or support desks (telcos, utilities, government services).

How could it be monetised?

Hardware – create or white label a high quality bluetooth headset.

App dictionary add-ons for specific languages. Or specialist areas such as medicine, healthcare, customer support.

How defensible is it?

This is the challenge. There’s bound to be plenty of fast followers. But the smart money would be on creating a series of partnerships and niche/industry offerings that extend the base platform (and yes, it needs to be a translation platform).

Food for thought …

This has been a known challenge for decades. Many businesses, technologies and startups have tried and failed. But this elegant, novel solution seems, on the face of it, to bring a range of existing technologies together to solve a recognisable problem. Now that’s what I call innovation.